Early signs of a kidney stone vary a great deal from person to person. Interestingly enough, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, many kidney stones produce no symptoms at all. It's when a stone is lodged in the ureter-the small tube between the kidney and the bladder-that severe and painful symptoms often occur.
The Early Signs
Early signs of a kidney stone, as reported by the Mayo Clinic, include pain that starts abruptly on one side or in the back, just below the ribs, and spreads to the lower abdomen and groin. The pain may come and go, but is intense and constant when present, usually lasting for 20 to 60 minutes at a time. Patients often experience nausea and vomiting, a frequent urge to urinate and painful urination. Other symptoms include cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine and chills and fever, which may indicate an infection.
Persons suffering from symptoms of a kidney stone can't get in a comfortable position. In an effort to get relief, they often stand, sit, pace or recline. More kidney stones occur late at night or early in the morning than at any other time. This is likely due to decreased urine output during these times or narrowing of the ureters during the early morning. Late afternoon is the least common time for kidney stones to occur.
Although kidney stone symptoms can be extremely painful, the good news is they usually do not cause permanent damage. Most don't require any medical treatment other than pain medication. The size of a kidney stone is not necessarily related to the severity of pain. A tiny "crystal" with very sharp edges may cause much more pain than a large round stone.
The pain associated with symptoms of kidney stones is also a common symptom of several other medical ailments. Some of the most common are gallstones, intestinal blockage, appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome, blood clots and diverticulitis.
Signs You Should See a Doctor
According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, some of the early signs of a kidney stone indicate that a doctor's care may be needed. It is recommended that you call your doctor if you experience extreme pain that does not go away, blood in the urine or urine that smells foul or has a cloudy appearance. Fever, chills and vomiting are other symptoms that indicate you should see a doctor.